Matter of Fact

“You can’t argue with facts.
You are not entitled to your own facts.”
—Larry Page

We may not be entitled to our own facts but we are entitled to our own feelings, and they control what we believe and how we behave. We’d like to think we’re rational, logical creatures but a mountain of evidence proves otherwise, as Daniel Kahneman points out in Thinking Fast and Slow:

The normal state of your mind is that you have intuitive feelings and opinions about almost everything that comes your way. You like or dislike people long before you know much about them; you trust or distrust strangers without knowing why; you feel that an enterprise is bound to succeed without analyzing it. Whether you state them or not, you often have answers to questions that you do not completely understand, relying on evidence that you can neither explain nor defend.

You may not know that you are optimistic about a project because something about its leader reminds you of your beloved sister, or that you dislike a person who looks vaguely like your dentist. If asked for an explanation, however, you will search your memory for presentable reasons and will certainly find some. Moreover, you will believe the story you make up.

Because this process takes place instantly and subconsciously it’s almost impossible to change—read The Happiness Hypothesis if you want to understand why—but at least we can be more aware that the heart, not the head, is in charge.

“Reason and emotion must both work together
to create intelligent behavior,
but emotion does most of the work.”
—Jonathan Haidt

4 thoughts on “Matter of Fact

  1. That’s a fascination quote, Mike; insightful and amusing at the same time. So much so that I just downloaded the book—event hough there’s a stack of 15 unread on the bottom of the bookcase. Thanks. Craig Glass 719.229.8258

  2. My ego was not flattered when I read Kahneman’s book that you quote from above. Another one that forces a reality check is “Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)” by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.
    Thanks Mike for this Friday Pearl of Wisdom!

  3. I wonder why I immediately liked you & trusted you when we met back in the 80’s? Must have been you looked and sounded like some dashing preeminent authority figure with a great since of humor that I had in mind at the time? yep, that must have been it……

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